Trust Me, I’m Lying – Confessions of a Media Manipulator by Ryan Holiday is a brilliant book about the online media landscape, and how it is driving public discourse in a very bad direction. Ryan has a very interesting background, having worked in marketing and being part of the problem he describes. In his work, he has exploited the weaknesses of the new media landscape to get stories into blogs, press, and often national television. Stories about his clients, to get them attention and ultimately business. In this book, he describes what he did, how he did it, and why we as a society have a big problem. It has changed the way I read online media, and made me a lot more critical of things I previously did not take notice of.
I just finished reading Society without God, by American sociologist Phil Zuckerman. The book came out back in 2008, but I heard about it recently on a skeptic podcast and I felt I just had to buy it. Phil Zuckerman spent a year in Denmark in 2006, and also visited Sweden during that time to perform interviews with a wide sample of what seems to me to be typical Swedes and Danes, trying to understand their attitude towards god and religion. His conclusion is that the Nordic countries today are a special little area of deep secularism in a world that is mostly religious and apparently growing more religious recently. Even in fairly secularized Western Europe, the Nordic countries stand out (or at least Denmark and Sweden does, in his research). So what? For a Swede like myself this is pretty obvious… but when you combine this with the fact that the standard of living and overall feeling of security and quality of life in Denmark and Sweden is very high, Zuckerman finds a great argument against a certain argument brought forth by Christian conservatives in the US…
I have travelled to the United States more times than I care to remember now, starting back in 1997. Business tends to make me come here for the interesting, exciting, large events. Being here is usually a nice experience, but getting here is not. Apart from the bother of a 12-hour flight in economy class, there is the green form called I-W94.
Next week (June 7) is the election date for the EU parliament for the next five-year term. As a citizen of the EU and Sweden, I feel it is my civic duty to vote… but the quality of the election campaign so far does not exactly encourage it. As in many other EU countries, the EU and its parliament feels like a distant power hard to affect, and the EU election process tends to be more about domestic issues than true EU-level issues. Even so, there is one relevant, interesting, and burning topic that has come to the fore. Intellectual property rights and “media piracy”.